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Breaking the Habit of You to Successfully Transition to a New Career

As the career landscape evolves for professionals in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, the number of individuals supplementing and diversifying beyond a primary income stream continues to grow.

I work with clients to explore their personal and professional evolution and fearlessly embrace career change to capitalize on it and transition to contributing to the world in a way that is meaningful to them. What is the difference between clients who successfully career pivot and those that don’t? Successful clients understand that the rule book that helped them arrive at where they are will suffice if they want higher levels of fulfillment.

Reallocation of your energy

A mindset shift occurs in your 40s and 50s w

hen you have a 20-year career history and another 20 years ahead of you. At 40+, several life milestones are typically behind you, such as buying a home, getting married, having children, establishing your professional credibility, or completing a graduate degree. By age 50, you are celebrating your children's growing independence as they become college graduates and are grateful that your professional expertise allows you to continue adding value to your current position versus constantly scaling the career ladder.

The areas where your attention and energy are needed change, and more frequent significant pauses occur between life events, inviting periods of self-reflection and introspection. Asking, "Is this all there is?" used to be deemed a mid-life crisis, but today is accepted and applauded as a mid-life reset. It only becomes a crisis if your answer is "yes."

Undo to become

Clients arrive at my coaching doorstep looking to define what the next 20 years will look like for them professionally. For many, this is the first time they have come up for air, paused, and contemplated their next chapter.

Are you caught in a cycle of “doing” versus becoming? Doing is focused on the present, while becoming is focused on the future and the change, growth, and transformation process. A cycle of doing results from an extended period when your energy is dispersed in many directions, from running a household and raising children to caring for aging parents. As the commitment to those obligations lessens, you find yourself in a space that allows you to focus on yourself for a change. It only makes sense to use a new rule book designed to move you toward your destiny.

Get vulnerable

Fact – if your career exploration process doesn't result in at least one option that scares you, your options are not big enough. It's easy to get left behind in today's accelerated world if you stop growing. All growth occurs outside your comfort zone. Whenever you act despite your fear, it increases your self-confidence and makes tasks more effortless.

What do you want? What would you do if you couldn't fail? These answers are the alternatives that are worthy of exploring. Don't just match your current skill set to another role. If you don't dig deep, you will arrive at the easy answer versus the correct answer. A good career coach will help move you to where you want to go. A great career coach takes you to where you ought to be. The bridge between those two states is a mindset shift.

Play devil's advocate.

Our minds are built to notice exceptions. If you look out into a pasture with one black sheep in a sea of 100 white sheep, your attention will be drawn to the outlier every time.

When brainstorming alternate careers, be assured your ego will be front and center with a list of strengths, skills, and competencies that you are missing to perfectly position you for a successful transition. To counteract that powerful ego-centric list of cant’s, take the time to play devil’s advocate and list all the reasons you would be perfect for the role. Allow the positives to gain a foothold in your mind and shift your belief of what is possible.

When facing a complex challenge, move away from your inner critic’s mantra that “it’s a terrible idea” and embrace how challenges create opportunities to expand your skills and gain valuable experiences. With time, you will see your efforts to move through the challenges as steps toward mastery rather than complicating issues getting in your way.

Redefine your relationship with effort.

Coach-guided career exploration helps determine your "best-fit" career options.

Adopting an “anything is possible" attitude is essential to break through the fear barrier that holds you back. Anything valuable in life requires considerable effort. Think of it this way; anything is possible if you have enough time and resources. So, the question becomes, are you willing to invest in yourself, whatever it takes, to figure out how to get from where you are today to where you desire to go?

There's risk in doing AND not doing.

“It's too risky!” Financial instability is at the top of almost every client’s list of biggest fears. Mortgage payments, college tuition, or a second car for the newest driver in your household can feel like the cement that encases your feet in the ground.

However, if your professional life becomes stagnant, your attempts to remain neutral or stay in the same place will result in you getting left behind. The world continues to change at an ever-increasing pace. It has radically changed in several ways since the onset of the pandemic.

How many employers thought remote work was impossible before being put in a position where they would be out of business if they didn't evolve in that direction?

Learn to decipher when you are saying "I won't" versus "I can't." "I can't" signifies that if something changes, then success is possible. In that case, identify what needs to change and pursue that with a vengeance. "I won't" is what you are saying when you take options off the table based on personal preferences or parameters. For example, if you identify a "best-fit" career option but decide not to pursue it due to salary, location, or a requirement for further education, then your decision not to accept a lower salary, a longer commute, or to get further education is you really saying "I won't. Would a lower salary require you to lower your living expenses? Lowering your living expenses is possible; it may not be desirable, and it may not be easy, but if push comes to shove, it's possible. Just be aware that there is a difference between "I couldn't come up with any alternate career options" and "I came up with career options, but I don't want to pursue them because they would require a change I don't want to make."

Reframe failures

Learn to reframe failures as learning opportunities. Failure is inevitable unless you are playing very small and very safe. The important thing is not the failure itself; it's what you learned from it and what you put in place so that it never happens again. Perseverance changes failures into lessons, not reasons to quit.

No matter where you are in your career, you should always be battling a learning curve. Don't get complacent. Learn to navigate failures and use them to accelerate your learning curve when they occur. Each failure will take you one step closer to the answer and empower you to take the necessary risks to accomplish your objective.

Stepping toward your destiny

Be strategic and self-direct your career evolution toward contributing in a way that is meaningful to you. Taking just one small step on the new path reinforces that you are always in charge of your destiny, and any perceived limits are self-defined.

Holding two jobs or pursuing two professional endeavors simultaneously is used to signify a desire to get ahead financially. More often than not, in today's world, it signals that you are honoring your professional evolution and spreading your wings in the direction of new expansive career endeavors that align with how you want to contribute to the world. These career "addendums" have been called side hustles or /careers (pronounced 'slash' careers). They fill the role of helping us express our talents in new and creative ways and provide additional income security through diversification.

Taking small steps can be beneficial by allowing you to assess firsthand what the transition will look and feel like. Small steps serve as a trial run where small successes can mitigate your fears of failure. A slower approach also allows you to throttle your efforts and resulting in forward momentum up or down depending on what is going on in your life.

If it all feels impossible, get help from a career coach who can challenge the mindset, habits, and blocks that keep you stuck. Experiment with a new way of thinking that embraces growth rather than fear to fuel your professional roadmap.

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